Not just Modi, Gujarat BJP banking on CR Paatil’s ’82 lakh army’ to micromanage state polls

Ahmedabad: Eyeing a “historic tenure” in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls, the BJP is betting on a new pattern of victory through its head of state unit CR Paatil, a trusted lieutenant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP used Paatil’s model for the first time in Gujarat local body polls in 2021, which it won nicely.

Paatil, a three-time Lok Sabha MLA from Navsari, has already proven himself by passing two electoral tests since being named Gujarat BJP leader in July 2020. In November that year, the party won every eighth seats on which partial polls were held, then in 2021 it swept the local body polls.

Winning the upcoming National Assembly polls with a respectable term, however, would be the biggest challenge to Paatil’s organizational skills.

In his Lok Sabha victories, Paatil used an army of rank-and-file workers to micromanage the elections, BJP sources say. For the Assembly elections, the state unit under his leadership similarly employs an “82 lakh strong army of BJP IDs”.holders” who were tasked with micro-managing voters and securing “2.4 crore ballots” in favor of the party.

It’s half of 4.8 crores population entitled to vote in Gujarat a state that the BJP has ruled for 27 years.

BJP General Secretary Bhargav Bhatt told ThePrint: “This experience will be a game-changer for election management in India.

According to BJP leaders, the new model is an extension of the party”panna-pramukh model” in which a person was in charge of a panna (page) of the list of electors. In the new model, a five-person “page committee” has been formed, which will be in charge of approximately 30 voters on an election page. They will first be tasked with convincing their own family members to vote for the BJP.

Bhat said, “There ‘panna pramukh‘ was replicated in many BJP states and helped expand the organization to micro-manage elections at the cabin level. So now we have formed page committees, and in every family in Gujarat now one member is a BJP worker. So far we have 82,000 members of these committees. »

A senior Gujarat BJP official told ThePrint that before becoming state president, Paatil used this model in Navsari and won the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 with the highest margin of 6.89 lakh votes. “He then used it in the 2021 civic polls where we had huge success.”

“The party hopes this micromanagement of the election will shatter all previous victory records. That is why we have set ourselves the target of winning more than 149 seats (out of the 182 members of the Gujarat assembly). This will be a test of the effectiveness of the page committee model,” he added.

The BJP is in the midst of an election campaign in Gujarat. He organized the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra this month. Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Amit Shah held back-to-back meetings across the state with MPs, MPs and District Chairpersons to assess poll readiness.

Prime Minister Modi is expected to interact with the Page committee members next week during the Diwali ‘Sneh Milan’ program in Gujarat to get them excited ahead of the Assembly elections.

Next week the party is also preparing for the big programs an observer will collect feedback on the winnable candidates in each constituency, meetings will be held from all BJP units, morcha members, district and mandal units, and page committee members will hold interactions with people to maximize party reach.

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Page Committee vs panna pramukh

Elaborating on the new model, the senior Gujarat BJP leader quoted earlier said, “We have already experienced the panna pramukh model, where the panna pramukh was responsible for a page of the electoral list and his duty was to interact regularly with the electorate and to ensure electoral participation in favor of the party”.

Now, he added, the Gujarat BJP has created a committee for each page “which normally has 30 names of voters and a maximum of 10 families per page”.

“We formed committees of five members for each page of each newsstand, but unlike panna pramukhmembers of the page committee must ensure the votes of their own families at least three in favor of the BJP. If that happens, we will get around 2.4 crore votes (from 82 lakh page committee members) in the assembly elections, which will translate to 130 to 150 seats,” added the leader of the BJP.

According to the rough calculations of the party leaders, “if 60 to 70% of the members of the page committee perform, our job to obtain a good mandate is done”. The party won 1.4 crore votes in Gujarat in 2017.

‘Empower’ with ID cards, beneficiary schemes

To further empower the page committee members, the BJP decided to give them party IDs and task them with attracting beneficiaries to the government schemes.

A second party leader from Gujarat, not wanting to be named, told ThePrint: “We have a BJP karyakarta in every family in Gujarat and we have also created a huge worker base this way. Members were given an ID card so they could feel empowered as a BJP worker, just like the professionals. All 82 lakh members have verified phone numbers and other details in our database.

A BJP leader from a third state said the party “has also made the page committee members the key people for enrolling beneficiaries in government schemes so that they have a foothold in every nook and cranny. from their stand”.

Hope for a “historic mandate”

Over the past year, the BJP has held several page committee member meetings with the PM also praising the model during the BJP national executive meeting held in Hyderabad in July.

Ahead of the 2021 municipal elections in Gujarat, Modi had write a letter in Gujarati to instill pride among party workers. In January of this year, he had interacted with the members of the page committee to keep their morale high.

The party has also launched a program in which senior leaders are to visit the homes of page committee members and meet with their families.

Gordhan Zadafia, Vice President of Gujarat BJP, told ThePrint: “We used the panna pramukh model in Gujarat 15 years ago, but CR Paatil introduced the page committee model, which is more micro than panna pramukh.”

He added, “In this, apart from the BJP workers, we checked the page committee members who are continuously engaged in party activities. Thanks to them, we also receive feedback from the field. All of this will help us achieve a historic mandate in the state.

(Editing by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

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